A single actor relays the mystery story of Mr. Hyde without any assistance from a technician, triggering all cues without the audience noticing. Flat Packed Theatre’s Hyde and Seek is a theatrically interesting and technologically impressive proposition, recommended to everyone interested in the background mechanics of theatre.
The untold story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as relayed by Albert – the theatre doorman – is an adventure into the 19th century, staged in a cold, cold room inside Underbelly Cowgate. This one-man show, involving puppetry, musical numbers, multi-roling and an enormous amount of cues, creates the dark and mysterious atmosphere whilst still instilling proceedings with a warm humour.
The story told in Flat Packed Theatre’s Hyde and Seek, though, is not as captivating as expected – which, for me, is it’s weakest point. Written by Ben Oldfield, there’s an unsatisfying amount of ‘mystery’ and even less suspense in the slight narrative. The majority of the atmosphere comes from Ciaran Clarke’s effective sound and lighting states, and Underbelly Cowgate’s stone walls which compliment and complete the design.
Michael Tonkin-Jones – the show’s performer and creator – plays the multitude of characters well, and especially interesting are his switches between Jekyll and Hyde. He opts for subtle differences rather than making them two extreme opposites, and this adds to the darkness of the play as it reminds us that there are two sides to everyone, if we look hard enough.
But rather than aiming for a particularly philosophical take-out, Hyde and Seek aims and succeeds in being humorous – and the comedy is one of the production’s greatest strengths. A concluding scene where Hyde fights the police will stay in my memory, fondly – and although the writing could be tightened, this is a fun and ambitious hour recommended to everyone interested in the mechanics of technical theatre.